Stuart Scott died today after an eight year battle with cancer. The ESPN Sportscenter anchor was a centerpiece on the network for more than two decades, having introduced catch phrases like “Booyah” and “As cool as the other side of the pillow” to the nightly sports highlight broadcasts. His fight with cancer was a prolonged one, and took place largely in the public eye, which revealed his inner strength, giving him a victory even in defeat.
Even as Stuart Scott got progressively thinner in his later broadcasts, he continued to bring an enthusiasm to the job. And in his acceptance speech for the Jimmy V Award, which saw him visibly frail, he put forward a brave face and made it all about his daughters. Scott intimated that he couldn’t lose to cancer because he was fighting it every step of the way and he wasn’t allowing it to drag him down – and in doing so he just may have made life a bit easier for others going through the same thing.
Millons of people bravely fight cancer every year, and most of them do so in anonymity. For better or worse, when illness happens to a public figure like Stuart Scott, it places him on a stage upon which everyone watches. Even as his physical condition deteriorated to the point that it didn’t look hopeful that he would recover, he made it clear that he wanted to be viewed not as a victim to be pitied but as a fighter to cheered for. And in doing so, he may have taught the public to treat other cancer patients the same.